Le'Veon Bell says next year is 'irrelevant' after franchise tag comments

Le'Veon Bell says next year is 'irrelevant' after franchise tag comments

Le'Veon Bell says next year is 'irrelevant' after franchise tag comments

That number would be roughly $14.5 million for 2018, Bell's age-26 campaign. That might not be something the Steelers, who currently have more than $178 million allocated now to 39 players next season.

Bell has a relatively lengthy history of contract disputes with the Steelers, the only team he's ever played for. As it was, Bell did not report to the Steelers until September 1 this season as a reaction to his first tag.

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He said his contract expectations are about being valued and setting the standard for players in his position. The Steelers will play host to the Jacksonville Jaguars in their AFC divisional round postseason matchup this Sunday, and with such uncertainty for next season looming, Bell says it's important for Pittsburgh to make this playoff run special.

They certainly can do other things to alleviate that issue, such as restructuring Ben Roethlisberger's contract (he's now at $23.2 million vs. the cap in what will be his age-36 season) or releasing a few veterans.

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He held out until September 4 before signing a $12.1 one-year tender. Given the short career spans of National Football League ball-carriers, Bell, who will turn 26 in February, could be running out of chances to truly cash in. The two sides could not come together on a deal, however, and Bell ended up holding out for the entire preseason before ultimately signing his tender shortly before the season. While Bell is still relatively young, his increased workload in recent years could mean an earlier decline. The three-time Pro Bowler wrote that his main priority is winning a Super Bowl right now and that "what happens next year is irrelevant to my goals".

Bell said he would "probably be done" with football if he did sit out 2018. Bell is demanding the Steelers "value me" this coming offseason.

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Le'Veon Ball is attracting quite a bit of drama. But the Steelers also might be too cap-stricken to hang on to him much longer, so it's also thriftier - and possibly savvier, for the long term - move to let him go now.

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